Diane Pearse

Retired President & CEO

Hickory Farms


Hospitality/Food Services

Membership Type:


Diane is the retired chief executive officer and president of Hickory Farms, LLC, aleading multi-channel retailer of food gifts and specialty foods. She held this role from March 2016 through January 2022. Under Diane’sleadership, the focus was to become the best retailer in the food gifting space. During her tenure, she led a complete reinvention of the company and brand, transforming it from a holiday-only tradition to a more modern and digital premier retailer that offers expertly curated gifts for any holiday or occasion. She also completed three acquisitions during her time at the company, including Wicked Good Cupcakes, a Shark Tank company. From May 2015 to March 2016, Diane held the position of chief operating officer and executive vice president of finance for Garrett Brands, LLC, a privately held Chicago-based retailer of gourmet, handcrafted popcorn with over 40 locations globally. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing the strategy to drive overall growth of the business, and had oversight of the company’s supply chain, Ecommerce fulfillment, warehousing and distribution, information technology and finance functions. Immediately prior to joining Garrett, she spent four years as the senior vice president of operations and merchandising for Redbox Automated Retail, LLC. In this role, she was responsible for leading the company’s field operations, technical support center, inventory and logistics function, and strategy and analytics team. Diane joined Redbox as the senior vice president of finance in May of 2010, and was responsible for overseeing all finance activities, including accounting, financial planning and analysis, controls, and financial systems. From 2001 to May 2010, she served as the chief financial officer of Crate and Barrel, a leading specialty retailer of home furnishings. In addition to her responsibilities for the company’s finance function, she served on the company’s executive, operations, real estate and management information systems committees. Prior to joining Crate and Barrel, she served as the chief financial officer for iCastle.com, an internet start-up company in the home improvement industry. Before joining iCastle.com, Diane served as the vice president, business financial services–Americas for BP Amoco Corporation, with responsibility for corporate and structured finance transactions and risk management activities for the Americas-based businesses. After the merger of BP and Amoco, as a senior member of the finance management team, she played a key role in the design and integration of the worldwide corporate finance and treasury function of the company. She began her career with Amoco Corporation in 1980, and over a period of eighteen years held a variety of financial positions in the corporate finance, treasury, accounting, and information technology areas. Since 2004, Diane has served as a director for MSA Safety, Incorporated, a NYSE traded company, thatdevelops, manufactures, and supplies safety products to protectworkers and facility infrastructures in a variety of industries, including construction, oil, gas, chemical, fire service, and the military.She chairs the Finance committee and serves on the Audit and Law committees.In 2018, she joined the board of Basic American Foods, a global leader of value-added, shelf-stable potato and bean productsthat is the largest manufacturer of dehydrated potato products in the United States. She chairs the Audit and Finance committee. Diane also serves on the board of theChicago Children’s Choir and the Dean’s Advisory Council for DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business.Diane was named one of Crain’s 2019 Notable Women Executives over 50 and was recognized as one of Women Inc Magazine’s 2019 Most Influential Corporate Directors.Dianegraduated Bronze Tablet from the University of Illinois-Urbana with a B.S. in accountancy and obtained an M.B.A. in finance with honors from DePaul University. Shelives in Western Springs, Illinois, with her husband, Jim.

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